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Digitized by the Internet Archive in 2012 with funding from LYRASIS Members and Sloan Foundation http://archive.org/details/santaclausmoraliOOcumm .

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SANTA CLAUS .

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E. £. CUMMINGS (1931) (1931) (1933) (1935) CiOPW VIVA E M I I NO THANKS TOM 1/20 5 (1935) (1936) (1938) COLLECTED POEMS POEMS (1940) 1 x 1 (1944) (1945) (1946) ANTHROPOS SANTA CLAUS . Cummings (1922) (1923) THE ENORMOUS ROOM TULIPS AND CHIMNEYS X L I POEMS (AND) I (1925) (1925) & S I 5 (1926) (1927) (1928) (1930) H M CHRISTMAS TREE BY E.Books by £.

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Santa Claus A Morality E. E. by CUMMINGS NEW YORK: HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY .

*«**£U Published. 1946 Second printing. CUMMINGS THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA . November. E. December. 1946 COPYRIGHT PRINTED IN 1946 BY E.

a for Tritz TVittels .

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SANTA CLAUS .

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CHARACTERS DEATH SANTA CLAUS MOB CHILD WOMAN .

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I What have so much to take. What I seems to be the trouble? Come — speak out. brother? Yes. Santa Claus. and nobody is will take. The other way round? Quite. Strange. Death. Santa Claus. Death.SCENE ONE (Death. slowly and despondently. Sick? Sick at heart. I can help you. Very kind [3] . man) Something wrong. Santa Claus. Enter. with the familiar Santa Claus mask-face of a bewhiskered jolly old "Death. indeed. have so much to give. happens to be the other way round. My problem only it also one of distribution. Strange. But this is even stranger: Fm certain Santa Claus. Death. Death. Death. imitates crudely the jace of a fleshless and his mask human skull. a prodigiously paunchy figure in faded red moth- eaten Santa Claus costume. Santa Claus. strolling — he wears black tights on which the bones of his skeleton are vividly suggested by daubs of white paint. Santa Claus. Santa Claus. Death. and nobody do you mean? I mean will give.

Any more than such a world could imagine me. they can't.-^ ^ so greedy. just exactly. Death.Death. You're speaking of a true or actual world. Death. that its if you can. Santa Claus. indeed. Death. worships its own ugliness a world so false. my poor misguided friend. wish I knew. You're trying to give people something — Santa Claus. Can't? Cannot. it it cannot dream. Very good. solid by comparison. this which nobody can take —what. Now as to this ungivable gift something you're trying to give. Santa Claus. But surely nothing could be simpler than taking something which is freely offered? Death. And people won't take it? Santa Claus. [4] . Now if may be allowed to analyze your case Santa Claus. so trivial. Death. Death. so unso. Why not? Why not. —you can't imagine such a world. Santa Claus. Tut. Right. is it? I don't know. I Santa Claus. Because. phantoms are But no Santa Claus. a world so blurred v^ &^ luJ^ inhabitants are one another —an idiotic monster of negation starve itself ^v^\ \y^\ so timidjit would rather J^ eternally than run the risk of choking. I who helps another helps himself. Imagine. tut. nothing satisfies its hunger but always huger quantities of nothing a world so lazy that so blind. Death. Analyze? Listen. right? Right.

But that's absurd Absurd In this —and also tragic.? : — ! Death. sold. in plain English. We are not living in an age of gifts this is an age of salesmanship. there's precisely your predicament. Or. It is understanding. knowledge-salesman. Death. (he plucks off Santa Claus' mask. Death. . Death. Santa Claus. Santa Claus. and you are heavy with the only thing which simply can't be Santa Claus. when you answered said know/ 5 And when you you had something to give. a . only understanding Forget your understanding for a while. everybody wants knowledge. to get it. easiest thing to sell? Santa Claus. Death. Do you? Yes. Death. What's the Knowledge. Death. for isn't understanding the only gift? Well. Santa Claus. Tell me. "Death. Knowledge —without understanding? Santa Claus. May Go right ahead. revealing a young man's face) [5] . Absolutely. Death. have no knowledge . and there's no price people won't pay a Scientist Santa Claus. Death. how do you know? "I don't You told me. No. Santa Claus. Understanding? Yes. Correct. I do. I ask you a question? Death. yet a fact. my friend. empty un-understanding world sell anyone can knowledge. you told me. —Become — Scientist I and your fortune's made. Santa Claus. Santa Claus.

and never has Santa Claus. Why not? You don't suppose people exist. Santa Claus.and as for knowledge. why. So long. limit. A wheelmine but that's perfectly fantastic! Why say "fantastic" when you mean "Scientific"? . Don't people exist? People? I Santa Claus. revealing a fleshless human skull/ and crams the skull mask over the young face of Santa Claus) once people hear the magic name of "Science" (slipping the Santa Claus mask over his own skull face) you can Santa Claus. existed. Death. I You could sell don't mean to tell me do you? people something which didn't exist? Death. infinity's your but remember the less something exists. Death. . Death. Provided nothing! Santa Claus. the more people want it. I'll say they don't! wish to heaven they did exist/ in that case shouldn't be the skeleton I I No — in this "Science" game. I'll be strolling. this "knowledge" racket. provided Yes? Anything at all. Death. don't let that worry you (he slips off his own mask. Mister Scientist! [6] . Santa Claus. . — am. You mean. sell people anything —except understanding. Death. —Well. How about a wheelmine? Santa Claus. Death. I can't seem to think of anything which doesn't exist —perhaps you could help me. A wheelmine? Surely a wheelmine doesn't exist and never will.

Mister. I'll bet you can. me something. masked as Death. —Go ahead: Voice. Well. boy! Santa Claus. Voice. anything. Yes? How can is I make all if a million dollars? Santa Claus. Voice.SCENE TWO (Santa Claus. Hear ye! Hear ye! Hear ye! prove it. could use a couple. O I'll yeah? How What much'll you bet? Santa Claus. I Santa Claus. Voice. You're kidding. Voice. Wheelmine? [7] . A million dollars I — that you want? you've got 'em. Kidding! anything I Why. Voice. Voice. to I'll tell you anything you want ask know. You're on! wouldn't I do? Santa Claus. You wouldn't spend five hundred measly dollars for a share of preferred stock in a giltedged wheelmine. bet a dollar. I am a Scientist! And just to ladies and gentlemen. Santa Claus. Santa Claus. Could you use ten or twelve? Ten or twelve million dollars? —O. you can't tell me wouldn't do for ten or twelve million. Voice. haranguing a !Mob) Santa Claus.

Five hundred? Listen: you may have been dealing with conmen all your life. Don't Well. who does? Can't you guess? Santa Claus. but I'm a Scientist: here's the dollar you won. maybe tell me you never heard of a wheelmine! Santa Claus. but what do wheel and mine make? They make wheelmine. with a brain like that you ought to be President of the United States —now Voice. Two. say people don't! Well. Voice. you're just another Einstein! to bet with was a fool you — Voice. They're the things that make the world go round. listen carefully: one and one make two. Voice. I'll Santa Claus. your certificate of preferred stock. a mine is a hole in the ground. Santa Claus. Here's your five hundred dollars Santa Claus. I By certainly here's Jove. Voice. [8] . Congratulations! Santa Claus. Science? Santa Claus. Now what one and one make? can you tell me Voice. wheels are everywhere. Sure. Maybe you Wheels? don't even know what wheels are. Voice. You're wonderful! Santa Claus. tell me what a mine is? A mine? Why. Voice. Voice. Voice. My boy. Santa Claus.Santa Claus. Santa Claus. I'll I know wheels : —why. One and one? Yes. Santa Claus. say they are including people's heads —now can you Voice. You know everything But people don't dig wheels out of the ground.

—Anybody else? Me! Me. Individuals are. after all. Because Men like never could be equal —why? equality's the attribute of supermen you. Thanks. mister. the flame of Science blazes far Science. Santa Claus. and nothing more. is Just a moment. friends! Think it that individuals could be O those dark ages! What But now that hideous darkness turns to light. man. Adda baby! Long Hooray for wheelminesf [9] . what was equality? A word. and you. and human beings are corruptible for (as you doubtless know) to err is human. impartial and wide and omnipotent. never shall be said that Science favored Remember : Science no mere individual. Think is —only think at last the monster. it — or slighted anyone. And therefore (superladies and supergentlemen) when the impartial ear of Science hears your superhuman voices crying "gimme. and you. Friends." be enough wheelmine stock for live Science ! Voices. Voices.: : ! Voice. Think —only : think! for untold centuries this earth was overrun by human beings! was not so many years ago found among us a darkness. ! freed from his obscene humanity! —While men were merely men. A dream. and you. before whose superhuman radiance all dark prescientific instincts vanish. too! Gimme! Santa Claus." Science responds in "let there Its omnipotence all. nothing but human beings. You're quite welcome.

there : what's your hurry? Help —quick— for mercy's sake — they're after me After you? After me. or doesn't it? Death. Death. masked as Death. A wheelmine? Yes. Santa Claus. Death. I've got him now! (Enter Santa Claus. masked as Santa Claus. Who's coming? Everybody! Santa Claus. Why? It's Santa Claus. To the miners in the mine Miners? Wheelminers! Santa Claus. don't know — will you tell me something? Death. yes! They're coming! Santa Claus. Death. Are you crazy? I Santa Claus. Santa Claus. the accident Accident? Santa Claus. Death. Tell you what. strolling: angry voices offstage) Death. Death. Santa Claus. Does a wheelmine exist.— — — SCENE THREE ("Death. Death. Don't be ridiculous. Death. You mean it doesn't exist? [10] . running) —Hello Santa Claus.

Exist? In other words. snappy. Santa Claus. Death. yet a fact. tell me how can I prove I'm not to blame for the damage caused by an accident which never happened to people who are nonexistent? Death. me —how! My friend. I negatives. furious: a Voices. Mister Science —you're going [1 1] hang for this . it I going to do. make an allowed to analyze Now if may be die? Do you Ha-ha-ha-ha! want to die? How could Death die? Santa Claus. exist yourself. —two Santa Claus. —Death? Didn't you know? I'm going mad. that people. how can it mutilate. wheelmines. But that's absurd! —And So make it tragic. Death. Death. Santa Claus. whatever you are. Death. You can't. then? Do? looks to me as if you'd have to prove you don't Santa Claus. little girl is There he ! Grab him to Listen. how can turn mere people into monsters answer Death. Perfectly. tell me how can it it maim. Mob. Santa Claus. you've forgotten something like namely. O. My God—but what am Why. nonexistent Death. then tell me. my dear fellow.Death. Death or the Devil. don't exist affirmative. You : tell me. a wheelmine isn't it? is Of course notl Santa Claws. I you know. Mister Santa Claus T'tom the opposite direction enter follows) ! (Exit.

as for burying people alive — that's nonsense.: : : : Santa Claus. —How should our and our most sages miss the mark of life. Another. as my heart has told me know. this I —Stop! is all a mistake exist. We say you're Science! Down with Science! Santa Claus. am not Science/ wheelmines don't and Voices. and no one understands. we have are all of us sold our spirits into death. we that but. are so very full of : knowing we by are empty empty I of understanding. and you in your hearts no man or woman on this big small earth. that emptiness. man and woman. skillful players lose the game? your hearts because all will tell you. Ladies and gentlemen. of us lost our living honesty. by some impostor — so have you all have been tricked and ruined — so have I. You know what we mean! Santa Claus. And I so has every it. who do you Think? think A Voice. Another. it I say. swear to you [12] . What do you mean? Why. Ladies and gentlemen deceived If : —Wait! if you all have been I. Another. —Who can I tell truth from falsehood any feel it more? say it. we know! the crook You're Science! Science? Santa Claus. say and you of us feel in your hearts we we are all no longer glad and whole. all of us the sick parts of a sick thing. all —O. Science Science — — who who sold us stock in a wheelmine! buries the beast men alive! Santa Claus. I am? We don't think. all we have all and so we are of us not any more ourselves.

— who am I? Silence! (7 o Child] Don't be afraid Child. with the yellow hair and the blue eyes. don't exist. And And since since am I not guilty.(and if I lie. Voices. Santa Claus? Chorus. and gentlemen. I don't exist. and whoever : she says Voices. look before you leap. but nobody who lives can fool a child. innocent. I am is that fair enough? Okay! Sure! Why not? Fine! A swell idea! right! The kid will tell him who he is. ladies and gentlemen. the verdict of that little girl —Now I'll Til abide over there. am —Goodbye! (Exit. . hang me a all little higher than the sky) men and every woman may by be wrong. . am. ladies I are Santa Claus. — there ain't no Santa Claus I Santa Claus. And. all Everybody knows! Santa Claus. . I am not guilty. simply ask her I who I am. !Mob disintegrates slowly. next time. You Ha-ha-ha-ha Then. muttering) [13] .

Death. me your and take my skeleton? With and all the pleasure in the world. thank you. you've saved You don't say so.wheelmine. heavy date little with a swell jane up the street a way. Santa Claus. just for luck! I'll throw Death. old-timer. Go right ahead! I've got a Death. Death. Santa Claus. Death. my friend. masked as Death. you to do me a favor now. my advice my life! proved efficacious? Santa Claus. strolling) Santa Claus. I'm going to ask Absolutely! Well. (Jhey undress) Santa Claus. Santa Claus. Better? You're looking better. but something tells me she prefers fat plump Will you give Santa Claus. O—hello. If only I were sure (Enter Death. That was a beautiful child . fellows. in a. Death.. No wheelmines. [14] .. masked as Santa Claus) Hello there! Death. Why not? I take it.— SCENE FOUR (Santa Claus. That was a beautiful child.

Death. Child. everybody makes mistakes Santa Claus. —Well. You're different. Santa Claus. Child. paunchily swaggering. . I'll see you later. thinner. What do you guess? You could be happier. Death. the opposite direction enter. or. I I love them. But I guess . Child. Well. am. —Child? I Santa Claus. on tiptoe. . . — Child.. Child. Have you ever loved a woman? Pardon me. Have you? Once. I Yes. Thinking of the old days. dress as each other) De gustibus non disputandum : est. children are your specialty. [15] . from Hello. Death. Santa Claus. hello! You remember me? Of course I Santa Claus. Santa Claus." No. Child. have always loved them. eh? Well. did you say "loved"? I Santa Claus. aren't you. I Do you I like if me this way? like you any way — you're you.. Much guess . Death. Child) Santa Claus. in good American I prefer women. said "loved. do. Santa Claus. and I shall love them always. and Death. Santa Claus.. was . Mister Death! (Exit Death as Santa Claus. So long. Santa Claus. Death. (7hey exchange costumes. I guess that makes me very happy. Child.

Yes. Who we was that somebody else? That somebody lost? Santa Claus. —Because you're somebody? I looking Santa Claus. Santa Claus. Child. yes. I should never be afraid of anything in the sky and on the earth and anywhere and everywhere and nowhere. if I were only sure of one thing. Child. too. Can I? You. Child. Child. (She dances away) [16] . Child. What. beautiful : And very sad. she's very beautiful. Child. am. Why are you going? Don't be afraid: Santa Claus. Child. Santa Claus. Can't you guess who? Santa Claus. we'll find her. Child. for could. O. Because we each other —and somebody (Confused voices. Santa Claus. Child. Very Tell and very sad. jar offstage) Goodbye Santa Claus.couldn't you? Perhaps I Santa Clans. And Somebody very beautiful? I'm looking for somebody. me is she sad because she lost lost you? else.

since I seem to hear his voice again. Woman. reeling and capering-. O voice of him protect I loved more than my life. I my love and have (Enter Santa Claus. weeping] of the world Woman. take me. as Death) You have wanted me. She cringes) Don't be afraid. Could the world be emptier? (Jumult onstage. Knowledge has taken love out and all the world is empty empty empty in all the men for a are not men any more world man who cannot love is not a man. Voices.SCENE FIVE (Enter Woman. the !Mobsters [17] . and/from their love alone. in love and only a woman can be a is woman. Now Santa Claus. How fortunate is (offstage) dying. low and forever. me from that deathless lifelessness — last (Enter !Mob in procession. joy born-Vjoy! Knowledge has taken love out and all of the world the world for is I joyless joyless joyless. lost Come. Santa Claus. Dead! Dead! Woman. Woman. death! have lost have I my joy and lost myself.

Santa Claus. O. was once too much was the kid. Dead. my soul myself (unmasking) . Science is yes. Dead. He'll never another wheelmine — never! Dead! Hooray! Dead! Hooray! Dead! Voice. Another. Dead. was isn't that good! it was Another. and rushes to her arms) Woman. —Not yours. He never fooled us. Death. is Hooray! dead! dead! Dead. Yes. say starts) Yeah. Now and Never. (kneeling to Santa Claus) [18] . Science sell Voice. reeling and capering. pal it (Woman Another. The filthy lousy stinking son of a bitch. booing whistling screeching) Woman. but the second time I'll —boy. Hooray! Dead. Joy —yes ! My (yes . I Woman. Voices. Ours. for making love remember me.! ! — ! carry a pole. Hooray hooray hooray hooray hooray! once. . He fooled us Another. Chorus. the world could be emptier. from which dangles the capering and reeling corpse of T)eath disguised as Santa Claus] Chorus. Death! v Woman. (Enter dancing Child: sees Woman. Another. Dead. yes) my my love No. Ha-ha-ha-ha — there ain't no Santa Claus (Exit !Mob. . Did you see the look she gave him? Did you hear her say "that Santa Claus"? (Woman Claus) turns-. Voices. dead: dead. and once : A Voice. had remembered love —but who am life I? Thanks. sees the dangling effigy — recoils from the real Santa Chorus. Santa Claus. Dead.

.This book. Inc. designed by Maurice Serle Kaplan. has been Inc. and printed and bound by Quinn & Boden. set in Weiss types by The Composing Room.

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COLLEGE LIBRARY Date Due Due Returned Due Returned u** i>3V 3 q.ff 07 DEC 1 1 1% '"y KJI ( DEC 09 IAN %tt\n t 388 DEC 6 IS 83 DEC n Wa Ra u Q a KJO torn .

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